Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate & Other Filters  
by Samira Ahmed
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published:  January 16th 2018
Rating: Can we be friends?
Recommended by: Eric Smith on Twitter

I am not going to lie: Love Hate, & Other Filters is one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I have had it preordered for months.  I tried to preorder it DOZENS of times.  I am not exaggerating.  I had it preordered, but every time that I saw it on twitter or on a blog, I would go back to the Amazon page and try to preorder it again and then get reminded that I had already preordered it and curse the fates that were causing the time to go so slowly. Lather, rinse, repeat. I was predisposed to like it.

Love Hate, & Other Filters is an own voices book about Maya Aziz a seventeen-year-old Indian-American Muslim film enthusiast who is struggling to find a balance between the life that she wants and the life that is expected for her.  Making it even more complicated is the fact that she is still figuring out what the life she wants is.  I loved her.

Some things I googled while reading: bandini, lehanga, ghagra choli, mandap, beta, dohl, and probably a bunch of others.  You can figure out what they meant in context, and there was a bit of explanation if it was needed but I like to know exactly when I read. You should google these things as well.  Trust me it will make your life better. My weekend plans now include Bollywood movies and Indian delivery.  Don't judge.

My mom tosses me a final wan smile—I love you, but I remain disappointed—and shuts the door. I settle beneath the covers. If I ever direct a retro-Bollywood melodrama, my mother will be the star.

I really appreciated the family dynamics.  Maya's relationship with her family is so different from my own.  It was interesting to see how she was both struggling against all of the pressure and expectations while at the same time knowing how necessary their support is in her life.  This is the fourth or fifth book that I have read recently about children of first-generation Asian immigrants that has this element of loving pressure and expectations. Maya's relationship with her mother is particularly vivid.  "I love you, but I remain disappointed."

I found the writing, characterization excellent. Maya had a sense of humor that I easily related to. She is someone that high school me would have loved to be friends with. My only small problem with this book was the rush to the ending.  While I found what happened at the ending satisfying the jump from the last chapter to the epilogue seemed rushed. Maybe I wanted a bit more closure?  Or just more.

There was a short-lived love triangle where I didn't immediately know who (if anyone) the main character will end up with. One in which I don't instantly HATE one of the love interests? What sort of sorcery is this? This is one of the few books where I found the love triangle believable regarding characterization and plot. Well played, Ms. Ahmed.

In between each chapter is a short glimpse of the lead up to and the aftermath of the act of terrorism (I don't think this is a spoiler as it is in the blurb) What is extraordinary about these glimpse of the perpetrator and the victims and bystanders was the sensitivity of the portrayal.  He wasn't a monster hiding under the bed.  He was a person. A person who committed a terrible crime but still a person.  There were no excuses made for his choices, but she still allowed his humanity to show through. The world needs that kind of nuance. I need that kind of nuance.

The blurb mentions that Maya had to deal with Islamophobia after the terrorist attack. And she does.  There are a few really terrible incidents. What I found even more affecting was her slow realization that it wasn't going to blow over.  That being a Muslim (or just brown probably) in America was always going to be a tightrope walk.  It makes her choice to face the world and take a chance for her future that much braver.

From Goodreads:

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.